Rival colonies of the bacteria Paenibacillus dendritiformis can produce a lethal chemical that keeps competitors at bay. When competing colonies get too close poisons are unleashed, creating a toxic no-man's land in between. By halting the growth of nearby colonies and even killing some of the cells, groups of bacteria preserve scarce resources for themselves, even when the encroaching colony is closely related. The discovery was made by Eshel Ben-Jacob of the University of California, San Diego, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics; Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University; Avraham Be'er of the University of Texas, Austin; and colleagues at these institutions.
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